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Potty vs toilet – the pros and cons

Toddler sitting on a potty during toilet trainingIt’s one of the biggest decisions to make when you embark on your little one’s toilet training adventure – to use a potty or straight to toilet?

There is a list of reasons to choose one over the other, and neither is really the RIGHT choice – it’s just what is best for your child’s needs and what fits the way your household runs.

So here are the pros and cons for potties and toilets.

Potty vs toilet – the pros and cons

Potty pros

  • They are very portable, so you won’t have to worry about your little one having an aversion to other people’s toilets or public toilets.
  • They can be easily used if your home toilet is occupied when your little one decides they really have to go, and you only have the one toilet in the house.
  • It is easy for younger and smaller kids to hop on and off a potty, rather than a big toilet.
  • It can be less daunting to start out with a potty rather going straight to the big toilet.
  • Sitting on a potty means a child’s feet are firmly planted on the ground, allowing for correct toileting posture and helping them empty their bowels completely.

Potty cons

  • There is a lot more clean-up required. You’ll need to dispose of the contents and clean the potty after every use, so if you’re a bit squeamish, it may not be the best option.
  • While it is convenient to be able to use it in any room, the wiping and hand-washing routine becomes difficult if the potty is not always used in the bathroom. Germs can spread easier if there’s more time between going on the potty, wiping, and washing hands.
  • It’s an extra piece of equipment to buy and have in the house, as your little one still needs to transition from potty to toilet at some stage – meaning they might need a toilet seat and step as well as the potty.

Toilet pros

  • All the waste goes straight down the toilet – less cleaning involved.
  • Going to the toilet will always happen in the same place, thus creating a routine to be followed – sit on the toilet, do your business, wipe, flush the toilet, wash your hands.
  • It may be easier for them to simply follow in yours or an older siblings footsteps – being just like mum or big sibling.
  • You eliminate a step in the toilet training process if you go straight to the toilet rather than a potty. It can sometimes be more difficult to transition from nappies to potty, then potty to toilet later as there are more steps.
  • If you need to buy a toilet seat so they can sit on the toilet easier, there is still less to clean than a full potty.

Toilet cons

  • Some kids can be scared of the big toilet – of falling in, or not being able to get up on it before they wet themselves, etc.
  • There actually is the possibility that they could fall in, so you may need to purchase a toilet seat that makes it easier for them sit on the toilet. This includes cleaning and storing another piece of equipment.
  • While your little one may find using your home toilet easy, taking them out where they have to use unfamiliar toilets can become an issue for some kids.
  • If you only have one toilet in the house, the rate of accidents may be higher before they can hold on to wait until the toilet is free.
  • You would most likely also need a toilet step so they can climb up easily – another piece of equipment to buy and store. Although you’ll probably use this for longer as they will also need a step to reach the taps to wash their hands. Some children are quite agile though and will surprise you at how they are able to climb onto a toilet.
  • If a child’s legs are dangling rather than supported they are not in the best position for toileting and may not be able to empty their bowels completely.

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2 comments so far -

  1. As a pelvic floor physio , the other comment I would make re toilets is make sure that at all times feet are supported as this facilitates the correct toileting posture and allows the pelvic floor to relax and therefore empty bladder and bowel correctly. The steps with attached seat can be good for this . Many of the cases of chronic constipation we see are due to incomplete emptying from non relaxing pelvic floors – which are working to try to stop little bottoms from falling into the loo! If they can’t reach to support their feet then they shouldn’t be on the big toilet yet.

    • Hi Fiona!

      Thanks for this very important advice – we will add something about this into the story. My little one has always been prone to constipation and we were recommended to try a potty when he was little to help get him into the right ‘squatting’ position. Now he is bigger he still uses a stool in front of toilet.

      Thanks again!



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